Vacation, Los Angeles

*More vacation information, sorry to say this will continue next week as well.  In two more weeks I will get back into crafting.  Hang in there!*

For the second part of our vacation, and yes there is a third part, my sibling and I flew into Los Angeles.  We arrived at our hotel and spent a very nice afternoon discovering where we could eat near our hotel and looking around. I had a Bahn Mi at a Vietnamese restaurant, and now I know if I order one I need to ask them to leave off the Cilantro.  I picked up a bottle of a peach green tea was amazing, though boba is not my favorite thing at this point.  The Lychee Ramune had little to no flavor, so it was not really worth the sugars.

Our second day was spent exploring Little Tokyo as well as hitting Gather DTLA which is a yarn store.  I will admit, my sibling and I get along in short bursts.  Since I am an introvert by nature and my sibling tends to need to be ‘in control’ yet dislikes making plans we tend to get on each other’s nerves after a short time.  This was our last day spent constantly in each other company, however one day apart was enough to reset my good humors.  On this second day we went  to a fascinating little mall and hada ton of fun.  They had an amazing bookstore with a selection of journals, paper, pens, and other stationary that easily rivaled jetpens.com.  I had been wanting to try different pens for quite some time, however I could not bring myself to pay the shipping and handling.  All of the pen brands I had been wanting to try, as well as some that I had not heard of, were represented in this little store.  I also splurged and obtained some beautiful notebooks to write and draw in, as well as some watercolor pencils and appropriate paper.  I did insist that we go to Gather DTLA, a yarn store that had been raved about on Ravelry.  This little store, above a bookstore, was certainly tried.  The proprietress was a lovely woman that, when I made a purchase I will describe shortly, gave me a pin from the store’s yarn crawl which I was a couple of weeks too late for, as well as a plastic tapestry needle.  I found the selection to be quite poor, however as I said, they had just been through a yarn crawl and may have been understandably depleted.  I did purchase a skein of pink yarn with purple flecks called Flamingo by Elevate fibers and a cement bowl to hold accessories.  I later found out that my one of my pens wrote on the cement bowl beautifully so I can remember where and when I obtained it.  Other than the disappointment of the bookstore that Gather DTLA was found in, my fraying temper, and the discovery that my sibling’s idea of ‘exploring’ is wandering over the same three blocks five or six times to find something that a little research or a willingness to use google maps would have led us to much faster. I explained that I’m overweight and wanted to see more than a few blocks, so we decided to part ways for the next day.  (Alright, there were more raised voices involved.)

The next day started out lovely.  We had decided to part ways after breakfast.  The only unfortunate aspect was that since it was Memorial Day only one of the two yarn shops I wanted to go to would be open.  We had breakfast at the In-n-Out, where I had an amazing Double-Double burger that tasted like a steak burger.  I then went to Wollhaus yarns which had an amazing variety of yarns from all sorts of dyers. I found several skeins I loved, managed to find one in the colors that my best fiber friend would like, as well as a half-priced skein of Sweet Georgia yarn.  It had obviously been mishandled but a little work put it to rights again.  IN addition to the yarn I also picked up two stitch markers, one for my friend and I, with the Wollhaus design on them, and a slap bracelet with a magnet for holding scissors and stitch markers.  Down the street from Wollhaus was a lovely bookstore where I found a pair of sherlock socks, I read Past my Bedtime pins, Book Wyrm Pins, a garden journal, as well as an amazing book on Knitting Modular Shawls, Stoles, and Wraps.  Every time I get a cappuccino in LA I forget that these are real espresso cappuccino’s without any additions.  However the Sangria Nata De Coco Peach is amazing and tastes just like peach nectar.  I also had an opportunity to go to Torrid in the mall by our hotel, they had a few really good sales that I took advantage of.  Due to the sales I wound up with two dresses, two full length trench coats (one in black/grey, one in blue) as well as several braziers in my size.  Actually, In My Size, is the key phrase of my entire experience in Torrid.  Not only were things in my size but lovely things were in my size.  I have coupons that go into effect early July and while I intend to curb my spending I will be taking advantage of these coupons.  Thus ends the day.  I went back to my room, read, and relaxed.

The next day we went to Hollywood Boulevard, which was an experience unto itself.  The museum of death was our first stop, it is also the first museum we saw on this trip.  It was interesting, though not what I was hoping for.  The serial killers were disturbing and fascinating, the autopsy room was very disturbing.  I loved seeing the different skulls, I was very awed at seeing an elephant skull, a giraffe skull, and a human skull for size comparison.  There were 1900s wicker caskets, infanticide photos (photos of infants that died of SIDs or other maladies, the parents wanted to remember their children and had not had a chance to photograph them alive so this custom came into vogue), and various other ritual were fascinating.  I was hoping for more customs from around the world, but the history of death in the US, serial killers, famous deaths, and more was interesting.  The stars on Hollywood boulevard were fascinating, I swear it took most of the day just to wander up one side and down the other.  They were a wonderful reminder of how many amazing artists have passed through this world making their mark in more ways than one, and makes me wonder who will be the next Jim Henson or Angela Lansbury.  While I recognized more names than I thought I would, I did not take too many photographs of the stars.  I still managed to get a big sunburned, but that is alright.  Along our walk there were plenty of artists trying to get discovered, they hand out CDs to everyone that passes (well they try to), one of the artists did give me a High-Five instead of trying to make me a take a CD and I thought that was a lovely gesture.  The wax museum was expensive, $35/person.  However if you were a pop-culture or movie buff it would be well worth the price of admission.  There were some amazing displays and, to be honest, the idea of taking a photograph with some very famous people without all of the awkward conversation aspects is very appealing.  I liked the horror section, grease, and a few others.  The photographs are goofy, but very lovely anyway.  We then went to the Diaso Japan store, my sibling loves Japanese Culture, and I found some (very scratchy) wool yarn.  The quality is not there, however I had to purchase some for myself and my friend simply for the uniqueness.  Since we had to catch a bus to Disney the next day we decided to rest for the evening.

Again, this is much longer than I thought, so I will make Disney and entry of it’s own next week.  I promise that the next entry will be the end of my vacation entries.

Until then remember to Live Life A Little More Abstract!

Jimmy Beans Crochet

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I will confess, whether this pattern is particularly easy, or I’m a quicker with crochet than I thought, this bag which is two months worth of kits took me a grand total of three days to crochet.  Not even particularly dedicated days, and I did put in an extra repeat of the mesh.  I would have done another but I was not certain I would have enough extra yarn.  The pattern is a ton of fun to crochet, the cotton/linen blend makes for a lovely, yet crisp, crochet.  Since I spent the month of April trying to knit a pi shawl, I love it, and crocheting shower poufs I did not get a chance to indulge in my Jimmy Beans Wool Boxes of the month.  By the time this is posted I will be back from my vacation and will have some to post about that (I hope) so I should be able to work on knitting the shawl that is this quarter’s knitting club.  I have a couple of other  kits that I have purchased recently and while I look forward to working with them, they will have to wait until I get back from vacation.

As to why I bought the kits, I am a plus sized woman.  As a plus sized woman, with lovely taste in yarn, purchasing a sweater’s quantity of yarn is quite expensive.  In fact, most sweater’s worth of yarn would run me a conservative 120+.  This is why when I find a kit that promises a sweater’s worth of yarn, in my size, with a pattern I like for under 75 I tend to seriously contemplate purchasing them.  If you throw in a coupon or a KAL or CAL then I will usually see if I can fit it in my budget.  This is why I have a shawl that I really need to start crocheting on for my CAL as well as three other sweaters I need to work on.  One of the sweaters, I suppose it really is a cardigan, is of the same construction as the shawl so once  I have that pattern mastered I will feel comfortable starting on the cardigan.  I am very excited.

In the next post I will be discussing my trip as well as any crafting I managed during the trip.  Until then remember to live life A Little More Abstract.

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

IMG_1748I cannot for the life of me believe that MS&WF was a week ago already.  I feel as though I am just beginning to process all that I saw and did while there.  In addition, the tools and fibers I brought home are simply overwhelming!  I had so much fun thanks to my Aunt Debby, Uncle Fred, and Aunt Mikey.  They ferried me around and Aunt Debby and Uncle Fred let me stay with them, it was such a blast to see some of my younger cousins (okay Aunt Debby is my Father’s Cousin so her Grandchildren are probably my second cousins twice removed or something.) and teach them how to spin silk hankies.  They caught on so quickly, I was amazed at how much the boys seemed to enjoy the spinning!

Everyone was telling me that there is no way I could see everything in a single day.  All the while I was thinking, it’s a fairground how much can there be to see, some sheep, some vendors, it’ll be a blast and I can do everything I want to do, no problem.  Well I was not right, they were.  I managed to see quite a bit the first day, and even more the second, yet I did not get to see the speakers, nor many of the special events that occurred.

Since there really is too much for me to talk about in one post I will break this up into two posts, the first will be about the tools and wheels I was able to interact with, the second post will focus on the fibers and sheep I was able to interact with.  Each of these posts are going to have some length to them.

The Classic Carder Company, classiccarder.co.uk came from England to sell their wares at MS&WF.  They were absolutely delightful to speak with and kept their sense of humor despite the difficulties they and the american credit card companies were having with communication.  From this company I purchased a doffing pin and a doffing brush, both are intended to assist in getting batts of of a drum carder cleanly and with as little trouble as possible.  The quality of these tools is astounding, and I cannot wait to begin using them in earnest.

IMG_1757From Finnsheep.net I did buy some wool, which I will discuss in the next post, but I also obtained a flick brush.  This is a brush specifically designed to take locks and gently open them up so that they are easier to spin from without losing their alignment.  I was very happy to find this tool and see how well it would work on some of the locks I had obtained.  The results were amazing, and the tool was well worth the price.

From Snyder Spindles I obtained the three spindles I had been eyeing.  A ‘Dizzy Sheep’ spindle made from a fidget spinner with 3-d printed sheep on top, is a very lightweight and cute addition to my spindle collection.  A 3-d printed turkish spindle allows me to have a turkish spindle with quite large arms yet not very much weight at all.  I am very excited to take my time and learn to love this spindle.  The final spindle, actually the first that I picked up, is the Scottish Spindle the Dealgan.  This is a tapered piece of wood with a cross cut into the wide base.  This spindle can be spun and the base wound on so that the yarn being spun forms a center pull ball.  This is a very neat spindle rediscovered in Nova Scotia, an article can be found in Spin-Off Magazine Winter 2018 issue.  As with many things that I covet, I am finding the reality to be a bit different from my imagination.  I am sure that I will learn to love this spindle, we just might have to come to terms with eachother.

The final major tool that I obtained during this Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is a Mini-Hackle with a cover created by Indigo Hound.  This amazing hackle was a fraction of the cost that I had seen similar items on sale for, actually I managed to obtain some very good sales at this event.  Previously I had seen individuals recommending the use of combs intended to get honey from honeycombs as wool combs so I had purchased a pair of these intending to use them as wool combs.  Now I hope to use them in conjunction with my new hackle to create some amazing combed fiber.

IMG_1760Speaking of purchases before and after the festival, my Christmas 2017 present finally arrived.  I had ordered an Electric Eel Wheel Mini from the kickstarter, and mine arrived the day before I was to leave for Maryland so it went with me.  I had so much fun learning to spin with this mini delight.  If you are looking for a completely silent electric spinning wheel, then don’t get this one.  There are amazing premium wheels that cost twenty times as much as this little delight that will give you a soundless experience.  For $60 I obtained a mini spinning wheel, accessories (orifice hook, spin control card, plying band, extra brake band, etc) and two extra bobbins for a total of three bobbins.  From other companies electric spinning wheels tend to start around $800 so I feel that I came out ahead.  This is not going to be my new default spinning wheel, however it might become a new tool for teaching drafting to new spinners in an easy way.  I did put the push pin in the front of the wheel to hold my working yarn.

The last experience I want to discuss, in addition to how amazing the entire festival was, is the opportunities there were for trying out different wheels and other tools.  The Yarn Barn of Kansas had a vast number of wheels available to test spin.  Everyone at that tent was very helpful and I managed to test spin two of the wheels I had been looking at for purchase, the Ashford Country Spinner 2 and a wheel with an orifice about 8 inches shorter than my current wheel. I discovered that the Ashford wheel is amazing, but the very heavy bobbins make it a little too clunky for what I was hoping to accomplish.  The Mini wheel was a lot of fun to spin with, very responsive and easy to use. but I am just tall enough that the yarn rubbed against the top of the orifice every time I fed it onto the bobbin.  Though this rubbing does not have any effect in the short term, I am concerned that it might be just a little too much wear and tear for a longer spin.

I was also able to test out two electric spinning wheels the Woolee Ann from the WooLee Winder company, and the Hansen Crafts spinning wheel.  These two delights are how I discovered that my Electric Eel Wheel mini is certainly the most basic form of an electric spinning wheel.  If you are looking for an electric spinning wheel and have the scratch look at these wheels or any of the ‘big brother’ versions of my Electric Eel wheel.  They are all delightful to spin.

In conclusion, I did not talk too much about prices, but I will let you know that all of the tools I purchased were well under the price points I had discovered online.  This in addition to the savings I accrued from a lack of shipping costs resulted in quite a bit of savings on the price of these tools.  Since I am a bargain hunter at heart I was very happy to discover this fact.  It will be my greatest delight in the rest of this year and the beginning of next to start to explore my acquired treasures and delight in the joy that they are all going to bring me.  I also plan on dreaming about next year’s Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, wondering what delights that will bring me!

Happy Crafting!

Final Getting Ready

I am on the final stretch of getting ready for my trip.  My sibling, who is going to come up and keep an eye on Mom while I’m gone, let me know that I can have a carryon and a purse so I don’t have to worry too much about that.  I am getting really weird about this.

I have made sure that I have enough room in my favorite Timbuk2 bag to hold my yarn that I am trading Buffalo Wool Co. for a discount on a skein of their yarn, as well as all of the bags I am hoping to take since many of the vendors do not provide bags, and the first aid kit I picked up for this trip.  I have a bunch of little wallets to squirrel away my money so that I do not spend it all at once and so that I can keep track of how I am doing with the spending.  My personal grooming equipment is in a plastic box that I plan on putting in my suitcase.  There are two pairs of sneakers that I picked up with good arch support so that my plantar fasciitis doesn’t flare up during the trip.  It is quite painful when the muscle in the arch of your foot is pulled so tight you cannot sleep.

I plan on packing my pill container as well as a list of the medications I take so that the TSA doesn’t have any reason to be concerned.  I know, I’m a bit obsessed.  I messaged with my second cousins to see if they have any advice, and now I can only hope that things are going to go well.  I’ve got a great class to teach tomorrow and then I’ve got three more days of work to get through before I will be winging my way off to Maryland.

More to report from the road, and maybe something about my class.

Happy Crafting!

Over-prep for Maryland

I am starting to overthink my trip to Maryland.  I knew that I was going to, it is what I tend to do, yet I think it is for the best in the end.  I have discovered that there are going to be over 180 vendors.  However several of them are going to be selling larger items like wheels and drum carders.  This means that they are great for getting more information, but I do not need to figure them into my financial considerations.

There will also be a number of vendors that are selling things like yarn bowls, shawl pins, or exclusively yarn.  With the exception of one remarkable shawl pin (I’m looking at one vendors offerings and they are around $20 so quite reasonable), I can remove these vendors from my financial considerations as well.  This still leaves me with Over 150 IMG_1220vendors to purchase from, so I will have to be somewhat discriminating.  I also need to take into consideration food purchases, one site said that the food is about $20 for a sandwich/drink combo but my guild-mates said that they thought it was about half that when they went.  I was given the advice to look at everything and then begin purchasing, but I was also given the advice that if I see something that really grabs me I should get it when I see it.

With this conflicting advice, and the half an hour I spent on the TSA site, I am both excited and worried.  I have begun a regimen of Vitamin C; Iron and Zinc for a few weeks to boost my immune system.  I know that this trip will be a blast, but I will spend another three weeks excited and worrying.  Fortunately when I worry I tend to spend less time sleeping and more time working on things so it is entirely possible I will be caught up on Laundry and Dishes by time I leave, lol.

Happy Crafting!